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A WELCOMING ENVIRONMENT – Knightstown has a new community center – The Daily Reporter
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A WELCOMING ENVIRONMENT – Knightstown has a new community center – The Daily Reporter

A WELCOMING ENVIRONMENT: A new community center is opening in Knightstown - The Daily Reporter

KNIGHTSTOWN — A former church in Knightstown is being converted into a community center to help those in need.

The and Law Enforcement Foundation is currently in the process to purchase the former church at East Jackson St.

The building will be used as a place for youth to meet, to attend community events, and to receive counseling for residents of Knightstown, Hancock County, and the surrounding areas.

The facility — now known as the Cary Center — will also be rented out for events, creating a revenue stream to sustain programming.

The center’s assistant director, John Davis, can relate to those who might need a helping hand.

Having grown up as an orphan in poverty, he knows that life doesn’t always go according to plan.

Davis, who is now chief of Carthage Police Department as well as a sergeant at Knightstown Police Department can recall times when officers would stop and play with him and other children when he was younger.

He’s looking forward to paying it forward to those in his own community.

“Our town is great, but it’s not impervious to problems,” he said. “A lot of kids are doing some bad stuff. We’re going to help them find other alternatives.”

The new community centre will provide a safe place for young people after school to meet and socialize in a warm environment.

Volunteers are also available to prepare meals and snacks.

“For some kids, their only opportunity to eat every day is at school,” said Davis, who said the center could be open to youth in as little as three weeks.

A couple of nonprofits are already using the building, including Brianna’s Hope, which hosts weekly recovery meetings there.

The 6,500-square-foot building was completely demolished, leaving plenty room for programming.

Donations are welcome to help cover the renovation costs. Last month, a $50,000 anonymous donation was received.

“We’re going to try to make this facility into whatever the community needs,” said Kelly Hall, who serves as the center’s executive director.

Davis said that many people have reached out to Davis to help with the programming and remodeling.

Hall and he joined forces for the first time in 2019, when they founded Knightstown Community Education and Law Enforcement Foundation. Hall serves as board president, while Davis is vice-president.

They said that the plan to convert the former church into an community center was developed about five months ago.

“There are a lot of people behind the scenes who have made it happen,” said Davis, who believes the new center will allow them to better serve the community.

Local police are always looking for ways to help out those in need, he said, whether it’s helping feed a family or finding shelter for a transient person. Knightstown Police Department has a furnished apartment available for short-term use.

Hall, a Knightstown resident and fellow community advocate, is excited about the potential expansion of the center’s ability to serve the community.

Hall is a Knightstown Intermediate School Nurse and the CABEARD Memorial School Corporation community outreach coordinator.

Last month, she opened a free boutique at her school to help children in need of clothing, food, and accessories. She plans on opening a second boutique at Cary Center.

“I’ve always had a servant’s heart, so wanting to turn this church into a community center was really a no-brainer,” she said.

Davis stated that the center was named after Waitsell M.Cary, who founded Knightstown after bringing Johnathan Knight in as a mapper and plotter.

“It was Mr. Cary who envisioned what would become Knightstown. Kelly and I found and asked (his) family how they felt about us naming the community center after him, and they loved the idea,” Davis said.

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